The Haircare Basics Every Man Needs To Know
On any day, your hair gets washed, dried, styled, tousled by hand and wind, greased by natural oils and sweat, slept on, and so forth. Considering that your hair is already dead to begin with, it’s quite the challenge to keep it looking lively over time.
Here’s an extensive game plan to do exactly that.
According to Garrett Pike, founder and head barber at No Club Barbershop in Brooklyn, the baseline shampoo cycle should be every 2-3 days, though that can change from one man to the next.
“You need at least a day to build up natural oils that are good for the scalp,” he says. “If you have very healthy, resilient hair, you could get away with washing just once a week.”
This is because shampoo can strip away the good, nourishing oils while it also washes away the grime and product buildup. You need these healthy oils to keep hair hydrated from day to day; these oils also relax the hair and make it easier to style. While you should still rinse your hair every night and morning, it’s the excessive shampooing that should be avoided. It will dry out your hair and cause more harm than good. (We bet any guy you know with “great” styled hair cites this as his secret.)
Pike makes one exception to this rule:
“Guys who use a lot of product should be washing almost everyday,” he says. “You want to avoid product buildup and clogged pores.” However, if you’re just using a dime-size amount each day, this should be easy to rinse out each night and re-style the next day.
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RELATED: Best Shampoos for Men
Conditioning and Maintenance
If a shampoo is like a cleanser (used in moderation, remember), then a conditioner is like a moisturizer. They add nutrients back to the hair and scalp that enrich it for each day’s elements and wear—and to rebound from the drying nature of shampoo.
You should condition after shampooing—however, “never ever use a 2-in-1 shampoo-conditioner,” Pike adds. “It’s just a bad shampoo and a bad conditioner in one.”—and you can also condition between washes since it really only helps the hair. Many stylists also believe that “co-washing” (that is, using conditioner as your primary shampoo) will help flush away the majority of the grime that you’re targeting with a shampoo. Moreover, use conditioner regularly—every other day, at least—and you’ll only see improvements.
Pike prescribes different uses for different hair types, too:
“If your hair is fine, I would just invest in a good everyday shampoo and avoid conditioner unless you’re trying to get it long and avoid tangles,” he says. “If you have dry or thick hair, you should be using conditioner every time you wash. And, for overly dry hair, I recommend just using conditioner and never using shampoo.”
Most guys won’t need to blow dry their hair.
Men with long hair may do it to help set their styling crèmes or oils, and men with medium styles will use a blow dryer to add volume. Similarly, guys with thin or thinning hair may be able to create the appearance of density with a blow dryer.
“To make the hair look fuller, blow dry it and finish with a matte styling product,” Pike says. “Ask your barber if its necessary for your style to blow dry, because most likely a good towel dry or air drying is fine.” Pike advises against blow-drying if you have no true idea what you’re trying to achieve with it, because the heat and pressure will only further dry out the hair. (This is why guys with longer hair use nourishing oils when they blow dry—to counteract the damaging effects.)
There’s a difference between brushing a combing. While combs help set your style in place, brushes are best used at the end of the day, after showering. By running a brush through wet hair (longer styles work better, obviously), you can evenly distribute the oils produced in the scalp—those natural oils that hydrate and condition the hair (sebum).
This is why women with long hair brush theirs at the end of the day; in addition to detangling it, they’re fortifying the hair and preventing all that sebum from gathering at just the base of the hair and blocking the follicles.
Any guy with brushable hair should get a wet brush to untangle when you come out of the shower. A comb can sometimes rip or damage hair when it’s wet. Brushing activates the scalp and helps release the natural oil ” sebum”.
For your hair’s own longevity, the best styling advice is this: Don’t use too much product, and rinse the hair daily while scrubbing the scalp, in order to remove each day’s product buildup. (This will also stimulate circulation in the scalp, which helps prevent hair loss. Pike suggests doing a self-administered scalp massage each time you shower, especially if you wear hats or are under a lot of stress.)
There isn’t a major difference in hair care regimen for gels, waxes, pomades, fibers, clays, crèmes, pastes, oils, sprays, and so on. Rinse daily, wash 1-2 times a week, condition 3-4 times a week, and use hair product sparingly. Start with a smaller amount than what you might suspect needing. Experiment each day with a little more product until you find the amount that’s right for you.
Lastly, avoid products with alcohol. They’ll dry out your hair.